Photo (cc) by Michael Bentley
No matter what you enjoy watching, you can find it online for free — from silent films and old Westerns to Lifetime TV movies and “The Daily Show.”
The following streaming video services collectively offer millions of films and TV series that you can find and view for free online or, in most cases, on a variety of other devices.
- Classic Cinema Online: Free online streaming service offering classic and vintage films, including silent films.
- Crackle: Sony’s free streaming service that offers movies, series and original content. Supported devices include mobile devices, smart TVs, streaming media players and gaming consoles.
- Free Movies Cinema: Free service that promotes fan films by streaming “independent films published through official channels by directors or production companies that come to [the company’s] attention.” TV series are also available.
- Hulu: Subscription-based streaming service that offers movies, series and original content. A free account includes access to a limited number of episodes. A paid account, which costs $7.99 per month, includes unlimited access. Supported devices include mobile devices, TVs/Blu-ray players, streaming media players and gaming consoles.
- Internet Archive‘s Moving Image Archive: The Internet Archive is a 19-year-old nonprofit organization “founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.” Its Moving Image Archive is a video library containing nearly 2 million user-uploaded items that “range from classic full-length films to daily alternative news broadcasts to cartoons and concerts.”
- MoviesFoundOnline.com: Free streaming service that curates video content freely available on video-hosting websites like YouTube and Vimeo. Content ranges “from old cult classics to new independent movies” and also includes short films, documentaries, animations and series.
- MovieZoot: Free streaming service that offers “first-rate films of all categories” as well as TV shows.
- OnlineShortFilms.net: Self-described “biggest source of free short films to watch online.” This service is the short-film version of WatchDocumentary.org (see below), although it’s still in beta.
- Popcornflix: Free streaming service owned by Screen Media Ventures, an independent distributor of movies to the TV market, that offers movies and original content. Supported devices include mobile devices, smart TVs, streaming media players and gaming consoles.
- Retrovision Classic Movies: Free streaming service similar to Classic Cinema Online that offers more than 600 classics that have become part of the public domain. An extension is available for Chrome browsers.
- SnagFilms: Free streaming service that offers more than 5,000 independent movies, TV shows and documentaries. An app is available for Android and Apple mobile devices and other supported devices include streaming media players and gaming consoles.
- Top Documentary Films: Free streaming service that offers more than 3,000 documentaries divided into 25 categories from external video-hosting sites like YouTube, Vimeo and Daily Motion.
- TV networks’ websites: Full episodes can be found on websites ranging from those of broadcast channels like ABC and NBC to cable channels like Comedy Central and Lifetime.
- Viewster: Online video service with its own film festival that offers movies and series, including those “that are hard to find anywhere else … niche movies, cult series, acclaimed festival darlings, all the classics, hidden gems from all around the world.” Supported devices include mobile devices and smart TVs.
- WatchDocumentary.org: Self-described “biggest source of free documentaries to watch online.” Films are culled from external video-hosting sites like YouTube. An app is also available for viewing on Android mobile devices.
- YouTube: 10-year-old video-sharing website whose offerings include paid and free movies and series. To narrow movie options down to freebies, visit this page and change the filter from “All Videos” to “Free movies.” To browse paid and free TV shows, visit this page.
- Yidio: “Free service that allows you to search, discover, personalize and watch TV shows and movies across Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and hundreds of other providers in one place.” (“Yidio” is short for “Your Internet video.”) Supported devices include mobile devices and smart TVs.
To learn more about paid streaming services and other viewing options that offer cheaper alternatives to traditional cable, check out “How to Choose the Right Cord-Cutting TV Service.”
What’s your favorite way to watch movies or TV shows for free? Share with us in the “Comments & discussion” section below or on our Facebook page.